FRANZ SCHREKER – DER FERNE KLANG
JENNIFER HOLLOWAY, IAN KOZIARA
CHOR DER OPERA FRANKFURT, TILMAN MICHAEL
FRANKFURTER OPERN-UND MUSEUMSORCHESTER, SEBASTIAN WEIGLE
OEHMS OC980 (3 CDs) 2’17”
Austrian composer Franz Schreker may not be a particularly familiar name but the release now of the recording of this opera, first performed in 1912 and recently revived points to the reassessment and rediscovery of his work. He has left a number of orchestral pieces as well as a few smaller scale works. It is in the field of opera, though, that he has probably made the more significant contribution. Der Ferne Klang (The Distant Sound) was regularly performed for nearly 2 decades before Schreker’s music was proscribed by the Nazi regime. Well presented here, with each of the three Acts occupying one disk, together with full libretto this is worth exploring.
PRESTEIGNE PREMIERES – NEW MUSIC FOR STRING ORCHESTRA
PRESTEIGNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, GEORGE VASS, conductor
RESONUS RES10279 80’37
This is a lovely collection of new music, all written for the Presteigne Festival and all premiere recordings played by the Festival’s resident orchestra. All linked by the strings there is still much variety with songs and works with different soloists including saxophone and flute. A set of Variations on ‘Lovely Joan’ opens the CD with eight composers each providing a variation. Two works are by Hugh Wood together with two other standalone works by Martin Butler and Joe Duddell.
JESPER KOCH – CHOIRBOOK
DANISH NATIONAL VOCAL ENSEMBLE. FLEMMING WINDEKILDE, conductor
DACAPO 6.220627 51’09
31 settings of often very short poems by Frank Kjorup make up this work for acapella choir. Arranged in seven chapters this is an extended “meditation on nature”. Drawn really for the first time to write for the voice the composer has created a beautiful reflective work which speaks of beauty and simplicity. A world premier recording.
CON ARTE E MAESTRIA
MONTEVERDI STRING BAND IN FOCUS
OLIVER WEBBER, violin STEVEN DEVINE, organ & harpsichord
RESONUS RES10282 78’45
This CD (‘With art & mastery’) highlights a musical style from around 1600. The embellishment of simple melodies with virtuosic ornamentation was known as diminution. Here are a number of authentic works from that time – some of which were already treated in this way and some which have been embellished in the style for this recording. It is interesting to see this revival and extension of an ancient tradition.
DACAPO 8.226585 67’51
This collection of works by Per Norgard is a very welcome release. Chamber music and vocal works written between 1953 and 2004 are featured here, many of them premiere recordings. The larger works here are Kvintet Op 1- Hommage a Marc Chagall, Libro per Nobuko: I Sonata- The Secret Melody and Cantica.
PENDERECKI – COMPLETE MUSIC FOR STRING QUARTET; STRING TRIO
NAXOS 8.574288 52’58
This is a lovely disc of this engaging music. Covering a period of 56 years Penderecki’s string writing is collected here in a disc recorded in the year he died. The extended String Quartet No 3 is subtitled ‘Leaves from an Unwritten Diary’. The 4th, final quartet returns to the length of the first two but this time has two short movements instead of the through-composed earlier works. The String Trio dates from 1990, revised 1991, and is also a longer work in two movements.
NATE WOOLEY – MUTUAL AID MUSIC
PLEASURE OF THE TEXT RECORDS POTTR1309 (2 CDs)
It is well worth reading the accompanying booklet alongside listening to this recording. Seeking to develop a musical style that “lives outside the dialectic bubble of improvisation/composition” It also explores the idea of cooperation – mutual aid – in terms of relational working between performers and composer. There are obvious parallels with jazz and experimental/improvisational techniques. Listeners to this double CD can decide for themselves exactly where this music fits.